Thursday, January 17, 2008


The birth of NEW EARTH, as seen in INFINITE CRISIS #6!Yesterday we broached the subject of the streamlined DC Multiverse - or "Megaverse" - which consists of fifty-two seperate universes defined by each alternate Earth. DC has already mobilized the concept considerably, and I was disappointed to discover that Earth-38 had been identified in the pages of Countdown: Arena, defined by an Atomic Knight Captain Atom.

We don't do Brother Eye spotlights very often, but to date we've usually used it to focus on the canonized history of a character, and then branched out to discuss potential concepts. This time around we're going a little broader and opening up discussion to the prospects of an entire alternate universe, recasting the now established Earth-38 on the basis of a missed opportunity. Pleased be sure to note that this is not a canonical notation of DC's Earth-38. If you are looking for factual notes, you can no doubt find those through Wikipedia, or Google.

The Pitch...
When DC confirmed through the conclusion of 52 that it was streamlining the Multiverse, specifically to canonize various abandoned Elseworlds and debut new concepts as well, it was hard not to get a little excited. As readers we had the prospect of a whole range of new and nearly new toys -- for the writers involved, an opportunity to build something special from the ground up, with the benefit of hindsight.

With the alternate universe tale, Marvel Zombies, as a platform, we've discussed in the past a desire for greater design in alternate universes. With the Fifty-Two Earth Megaverse taking a centralized position, it was my hope that DC would not only turn loose contract talent like Grant Morrison, but also look to fresh talent to dedicate their time to fostering one particular Earth.
I'm not going to presume to know how much planning has gone into developing each Earth, but on the surface, it generally appears many have been slapped together on very thin concepts.

With so many Earths to construct, I felt a concept that really could've been well explored was the notion of time versus fiction. It's a common debate and proves particularly applicable to the DC Universe, which has sponsored a great many characters with traditions dating back to the thirties, and forties, when superhero fiction was solidifed.
Notions of pseudo-realistic development have been explored in titles like The Golden Age, or John Byrne's Generations, but both ultimately surrender to the time lapses typical of comics, to extend the presence of certain figures. Likewise, they share much in common with their vintage counterparts, and that's where I would have loved to have seen deviation for Earth-38.

The proposal here has not been entirely fleshed out, but essentially it's about turning contemporary storytelling to golden age ideals, and developing the DCU in a way not viable for a corporate entity. Concept aside, I just love the notion of really justifying an extra Earth by seperating it from what is and isn't possible form a franchized fiction.

The Story...
It's not by accident that we choose Earth-38 as our designation, because it's in 1938 when this universe becomes noteworthy. The conceit of this evolving planet is philosophically connected to Superman and the influence he had as a seminal superhero character, and inspiration for characters that followed from National (DC) comics. While it doesn't necessarily bow to that established fiction, or rigidly mirror real world events, it draws inspiration from those.

Literally, or conceptually, an alternate Earth is defined by the placement of three key characters; Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Over the coming weeks we will attempt to relate the formative story of our Earth-38 through these characters, and the intricacies of their emergence as public figures.

ARTWORK: Jim Lee- Superman (Kal-El; aka Clark Kent)
1912, in distant outerspace, the advanced planet Krypton is racked by natural disaster and a lethal plague. Crippled by political beurocracy, fear, and the looming shadow of mistakes of the past, this technologically advanced race faces extinction due to the indecision of it's elders.

A prominent scientest named Jor-El recognises no future for Krypton with the planet's thermonuclear core inevitably charged to detonate. With that, he utilizes illegal technologies developed by his mentor, Jax-Ur, to propel his infant son into the gulf of space. Kal-El is bundled into a tiny ship with trinkets, encyclopaedias, and memories of the planet Krypton, designed to ensure their legacy lives on.

The rocket is piloted toward a planet with a viable environment for survival, using an AI technology developed by Jax-Ur and Jor-El called the Bilateral Reckoning Navigation Chip.
The BRNC is designed to allow sophisticated three-dimensional celestial navigation, but a malfunction in it's infancy that led to the destruction of one of Krypton's moons, is what leads to the outlaw of space travel that sealed Krypton's fate.

The ship AI discovers Earth, and comes to crash land on a farm in 1913 Kansas.
A simple farmer, Jonathan Kent, investigates the disturbance on his land, and upon hearing the sounds of a crying infant, scolds his hands attempting to breach the cortex of the pod. Eventually able to pry it open with a shovel, he and his wife Martha do their best to care for the child, who remains remarkably unharmed. For the next two days the couple care for the boy, and retrieve various items from the pod.

The Kents prove suspicious, but compliant, when authorities from the Nation's Capital come to investigate. When quizzed about approaching the "meteorite" they nervously deny doing so, fearful of what the government may do with a child from the heavens. The church-going Kents concoct a story about a child born out of wedlock to Martha's sister, and inadvertently adopt the child with the aid of their community.

Christened Clark Kent, the boy lives a fairly typical childhood on the farm, oblivious to his birth in the stars. The Kents come to learn of Clark's complex history through strange solar powered notebooks taken from the Kryptonian pod. The computer-books contain informations on Kryptonian life, technology, and current affairs, and while the Kents choose to keep this from Clark, unbeknownst to them, the artifacts contain traces of Kryptonite radiation that stem the fantastic qualities hidden in the boy's alien physiology.

On the thirteenth anniversary of when the Kents found Clark, he enters pubescence and comes to need the aid of seeing eyeglasses. Over the next few years Clark's growth is sponsored by decades of exposure to Earth's yellow sun, and as the Kryptonian artifacts' contamination disipates over the years, Clark begins to grow stronger, faster, and more astute than many of his fellows. By his fifteenth 'birthday', the Kents finally reveal to Clark his true origins.

Though the young man experiences a serious crisis of his faith; his adoptive parents provide a supportive atmosphere that allows him to quickly come to terms with his history. Grounded by a humble parentage, Clark suppresses his abilities with rare exception, resisting the temptation of greed, to only use them to subversively help those in dire need.

This quiet servitude leads Clark to feel distanced from humanity, and despite a relationship with local girl, Lana Lang, his natural curiosity leads him to desire observation of more. He attends a Kansas university, and after several years of study, opts to leave his parents' farm to pursue an internship at the Metropolis newspaper, The Daily Planet. There, Clark continues to quietly observe humanity, and learn more about the world he has come to call home.

In an effort to remain inconspicuous, Clark recalls a childhood of afternoons spent in the library where he would devour books through his spectacles. Though the sight difficulties presented during his development of heat and X-ray vision had subsided, he continues to wear glasses, and adopts an awkward bookworm persona to remain underestimated and ignored by his fellows.
Prolonged exposure to kryptonite residue on the farm led Clark to develop something comparable to a human allergy. Although he had already manifested a range of superhuman abilities, he finds them increased exponentially while in distant Metropolis, making his secret powers all the more difficult to contain.

In 1938, whilst covering the signing of the Civil Aeronautics Act as a Planet reporter, Kent discovers a shocking connection to his alien past. Further probing uncovers the existance of his Kryptonian pod, which remains in military custody decades later. Desperate to reconnect with his past, Clark Kent fashions a colourful SUPERMAN finds himself in the spotlight of a rocket. Originally seen in the Max Fleischer classic; THE BULLETEERS!alien disguise from the blanket he was wrapped in at birth, and storms the military base holding the ship.

Clark's unceremonious incursion of the base raises the alarm, and he soon finds himself in a stand-off with US soldiers. Senior officers manage to talk him down, and formerly introduced as Kal-El, he is talked into joining the military as they face growing unrest in Europe, and the prospect of a second World War. Project Superman sees the birth of an icon, and in his cape and S branded suit, Kal-El becomes a public force for good, and an inspiration to the American people. So begins Earth-38...

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